Though it is my belief that the Bible is the inspired word of God, that in itself is not a sufficient reason to argue its validity.
Defending it on that sole basis would be circular reasoning, which clearly is not the case, for academic debates surrounding the Bible have been going on for centuries.
A major argument against the historical validity of the Bible is made based on the creation story.
This story encompasses only two chapters of a single book in a collection that holds 66 books and 1,189 chapters total.
To discount the entire Bible and all of its content, written by approximately 40 men spanning 1,500 years, on the basis of disbelief in the interpretation of a few chapters is not a just argument.
This is but a pitiful attempt to disregard thousands of years of history.
The Christian faith does not hang on the creation story. Though we believe God created the earth, a literal six-day creation interpretation is not necessary to be a Christian. In fact, some Christians believe that those chapters are symbolic, not literal. Regardless, the essential belief of Christianity is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, not that God created the earth in a six-day period.
Voddie Baucham, the dean of the seminary at African Christian University, best described the basis of its reliability in a lecture at the Ever Loving Truth Conference in 2016.
“I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable historical document written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eye witnesses,” he said.
“They report to us supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim to be divine rather than of human origin.”
There are two key claims in this statement.
The first claim about eyewitness accounts refers in part to the three synoptic gospels and John.
The gospels of Matthew and John are eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus from the perspective of the apostles. While Mark and Luke, who were closely associated with the early church, provide first-hand accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings.
Skeptics question the authenticity of the four accounts on the basis of minor discrepancies between accounts that aren’t relevant to the message of the gospel.
The number of times the rooster crowed after Peter denied Jesus does not add or take away from the validity of the gospel.
What matters is that the rooster crowed exactly when Jesus said it would: right after Peter denied him a third time. The overarching story is still the same regardless of how minor details are recorded.
Furthermore, the discrepancies in the accounts actually aid the legitimacy of the accounts.
If eyewitness accounts line up exactly, there is a room for suspicion. Because of human error, it is far more likely that different people with different perspectives will have different details recorded.
If the details were exactly the same, it would lend us to believe each writer consulted with the others to get their story straight.
Additionally, Paul the apostle openly invited people to evaluate the credibility of the resurrection by asking the 500+ people he appeared to after he was crucified.
In 1 Corinthians 15, he proclaims that if Christ did not rise from the dead, the Christian faith is empty.
A second part of this claim is the number of events which occurred during Jesus’ lifetime and fulfilled specific prophecies made anywhere between 100 to 1,000 years before his birth.
In Psalm 22, David wrote a striking account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He includes details such as the fact that no bones were broken, Gentiles surrounded him, soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothingw and so on. He even writes the iconic phrase, “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” which is translated as, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” repeated by Jesus moments before his death.
The specific details prophesied are in themselves affirming, but what is even more incredible is that this psalm was written 1,000 years before Jesus, and hundreds of years before the Romans began crucifying their prisoners, a gruesome method of execution that had never been used before.
Whether you choose to believe the religious implications of the biblical text or not is a matter of faith. Nevertheless, one must distinguish between the arguments for faith and those for the validity of the biblical message. Evidence for the latter is abundant, and I suggest every Christian study up on that.
The next time someone asks you why you believe the Bible, don’t give a weightless or generic answer. Give a historically backed one, and suggest they give it a read.